New Orleans’ Response to the COVID Pandemic Kept Me Sane
I am inspired by the way New Orleans handled the COVID pandemic.
I am an ICU Nurse that worked during the COVID pandemic in Wisconsin. I am planning to relocate to New Orleans and I am invested in watching how the city operates because I love New Orleans and plan to make it my home. Keeping up with NOLA saved me while I was working in the COVID ICUs. I routinely watched the local news concerning how New Orleans handled the COVID pandemic. The attitudes of city leaders, the innovation and kindness expressed during the COVID pandemic not only inspired me, but it kept me sane.
My family strictly social distanced because I worked as a nurse in the COVID ICU and my brother is a nurse in public health. We didn’t see each other for months all over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Plus while working in public health during COVID I contracted COVID and I was completely isolated for months.
Watching the city from afar helped me maintain my sanity. Everything New Orleans did to combat the COVID pandemic was focused on being kind, taking care of each other and being better on the other side.
First, Mayor Cantrell didn’t mess around! I was in New Orleans the night Bourbon Street was shut down last St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Truly a historic event. I returned home to Wisconsin but followed local New Orleans pages and online hosts and still do to this day. I noticed some stark differences.
So many musicians, tour guides, history tours and cooks took to social media to share updates about the city’s response to COVID. No one was happy with what was going on but they all put a positive spin on their performance. They focused on keeping others safe and healthy until we could get back together again.
Ever notice that each time you depart in New Orleans you get a be safe or be careful? It could be your car driver, wait staff or hotel worker. You get the same vibe online. The online hosts would close with be safe or be careful and sometimes – take care of one another. You could tell it is part of the culture.
If you listen to Mayor Cantrell’s speech about closing down Super Sunday, and especially when the Big Chief from Algiers Point speaks, it hits differently than what I am used to in the north. You can feel a bittersweet sense of his duty, as a chief, to do what’s right for his people. He isn’t complaining or whining he’s up beat and sincere.
When we were visiting New Orleans in April, bars could only be open until 11pm. One night, the COVID numbers met the benchmark that the mayor had set and the bar staff got a text saying bars could be open until 1am. I was surprised that the text system worked so well! It was real numbers, real benchmarks and real action. I was very impressed. In the north we have arbitrary numbers, benchmarks and plans.
In New Orleans, drive through vaccine clinics had music and food! NOLA had vaccine clinics at bars and several had late night vaccines. While it seems like efforts were focused on the drunk bar crowd it was also focused on the heavy service industry. Late night access to vaccine clinics is great for wait staff, entertainers, bartenders, police officers, fire fighters and healthcare workers; anyone who isn’t working 9-5. Mayor Cantrell even encouraged out of state nurses to come to New Orleans to help run vaccine clinics too.
My point is, NOLA took a tragedy and put a unique spin on it. Do you know how many times I heard, “This ain’t our first plague.”? New Orleans has a different vibe. It’s about taking care of each other, putting a positive spin on it and coming out stronger on the other side. We need a lot more of that in the rest of the country.